• The Ends of the World

  • Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions
  • By: Peter Brannen
  • Narrated by: Adam Verner
  • Length: 9 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 06-13-17
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: HarperAudio
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (203 ratings)

Regular price: $28.51

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Publisher's Summary

As new groundbreaking research suggests that climate change played a major role in the most extreme catastrophes in the planet's history, award-winning science journalist Peter Brannen takes us on a wild ride through the planet's five mass extinctions and, in the process, offers us a glimpse of our increasingly dangerous future.

Our world has ended five times: It has been broiled, frozen, poison gassed, smothered, and pelted by asteroids. In The Ends of the World, Peter Brannen dives into deep time, exploring Earth's past dead ends, and in the process offers us a glimpse of our possible future.

Many scientists now believe that the climate shifts of the 21st century have analogs in these five extinctions. Using the visible clues these devastations have left behind in the fossil record, The Ends of the World takes us inside "scenes of the crime", from South Africa to the New York Palisades, to tell the story of each extinction. Brannen examines the fossil record - which is rife with creatures like dragonflies the size of sea gulls and guillotine-mouthed fish - and introduces us to the researchers on the front lines who, using the forensic tools of modern science, are piecing together what really happened at the crime scenes of the Earth's biggest whodunits.

Part road trip, part history, and part cautionary tale, The Ends of the World takes us on a tour of the ways that our planet has clawed itself back from the grave and casts our future in a completely new light.

©2017 Peter Brannen (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • aaron
  • los angeles, CA, United States
  • 06-15-17

A Kid's Science Book FOR ADULTS!!

This is about as good as it gets, in terms of appealing to your inner five-year-old child that LOVED dinosaurs, while still making the logical, rational adult side of you happy.

Brannen tackles the 5 major extinctions that the Earth has experienced with the flare of a Vonnegut, while maintaining the scientific details of a Dawkins. This is a monumentally hard task, but he does it deftly. His research, descriptions, and attention to detail of the plants and animals interspersed between these cataclysms was remarkable.

After listening to more than a few dry, boring, repetitive science books, this was one I embraced like the warm sun after a cold winter's night.

The narrator was spot on as well.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Eye opening account of past catastrophes

I loved this book. At times it is very grim, but the ability of life on Earth to regenerate itself after total or partial annihilation is very uplifting. You realize that the timescales of geology and evolution are on the order of tens to hundreds of thousands of human generations. When an extinction event occurs (and it can be very sudden such as the asteroid impact at the end of the Cretaceous period) there is no hope for any exposed species.

The author sets the current 6th extinction into context, making it clear that it is small compared to the earlier extinctions in terms of biodiversity lost. Also, the level of carbon dioxide in past eras fluctuated widely along with Earth's temperature. As did sea levels and arctic ice conditions.

I had two takeaways from this book. First, humanity needs to either develop the ability to control CO2 levels in the atmosphere, or develop a resiliency towards future climate changes.

Second, for humanity to truly survive mass extinction events, we must develop the ability to colonize other planets. However, that is firmly in the realm of science fiction and will be for a long time to come, if it will ever happen.

Hopefully we will be able to come together and develop technologies that allow us to manage our climate, in time to keep the CO2 level in the atmosphere not much higher than today.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Amazing, Everything, Amazing

Any additional comments?

I am not a geologist or paleontologist, but the information from this book seems accurate. The author uses extremely credible sources - experts in respective fields. Also, the author appears very intelligent, but does not come across as pompous or too verbose.

This is a very well written scientific explanation of past and potential future extinctions. The author has a way with words, he blended science and love story/drama/action novel together in a way that was unforgettable. My writing seems like crap in comparison, well that's because it is, lol!

The choice of the reader/performer was spot on. Amazing voice and so easy on the ears.

It was sad when this one was over, but now I can be thankful I live in the age in which we live. This book helps reaffirm the wonders of life and the struggles the Earth has seen.

One of the better books I have ever downloaded. Bravo!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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very interesting, and balanced

this book was not as dogmatic as I expected based on the summary. It is balanced and interesting, giving a good perspective on our world.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Re: An excellent summary

This is an excellent summary of the various historic and modern theories related to the major extinctions of life on this planet in easy to understand and, sometimes, humorous language. For any reader seeking info upon these topics I recommed this volume and it's narrator.

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Pale Blue Dot for Deep Time

Painstakingly researched, funny, and incredibly insightful. Great narration. New perspective on our place in universe.

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Is Man Causing a Major Extinction?

This is a review of the major extinction events, with the question always in mind, are we causing one. Brannen's answer is "probably not" but we are in major trouble, and may wipe out civilization. The reader is overly dramatic, and the paleontological discussion is good but a bit uneven. It's an important book but could be better.

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Very good, narrator seemed to be phoning it in

I liked the book a lot, though sometimes the author's prose sounded a little too clever, and he tested a lot on hyperbole. The narrator had a nice voice and diction, but read it like he was trying to put the listened to sleep. It was also clear from emphasis and intonation that it was his first reading and he occasionally lost the narrative arc from one sentence to the next. Overall, still very good.

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A Lot of Good Geology and Paleontology

Engaging. My first in-depth survey of the mass extinction events (I waited). Covers the present event and puts it in perspective.

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Incredible

Made the alien worlds of past spring to life and the dusty, incremental work of paleontologists and geologists seems as epic and exciting as superheroes. But most impressively, it explained concepts like deep time and geological kill mechanisms in lush prose filled with insight and humor.

The reading was fantastic: I could listen at 1.25x and easily catch the full nuance of tone. I could tell when breaks in the text were occurring but never thought “hurry up!”